Baghdad, Iraq — A French charter flight carrying athletes, doctors and artists landed on Friday in Baghdad, drawing a sharp protest from the United States that France was breaking the U.N. embargo against Iraq.
The chartered flight carrying some 60 passengers from Paris arrived at Saddam International Airport, having ignored a request from the U.N. sanctions committee in New York to wait for clearance.
France insisted the flight did not violate sanctions, but its refusal to wait for U.N. authorization was the latest effort by Iraq's council supporters France, Russia and China to chip away at sanctions. Russia plans a similar flight today.
The Netherlands' U.N. Ambassador Peter van Walsum, who chairs the sanctions committee, said he expects the Security Council to discuss the matter of the French flight. A meeting was expected next week.
French Foreign Ministry spokesman Francois Rivasseau said the flight "was essentially to send doctors and surgeons to Iraq" and should not be confused with regular civilian flights, which sanctions prohibited.